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Process Record (Blog)

Crystallized Music / Priyanka Ram

Rebecca Bruno

Goethe is quoted for saying, “architecture is crystallized music.” 

My practice is concerned with translating this “crystallized music”, whether from traditional architecture or the architecture of the body to create site-specific and time-specific musical compositions and visual scores. This translates to musical improvisation in the present.  

The inspiration, translations, and compositions which are coming from modernist visionary Richard Neutra’s VDL House has been both lifting and grounding. The other incredible thing has to be able to practice and play the Hupfer grand piano, which is from the early 1900’s and imported from Germany. The home and the strings continue to resonate a timelessness in spite of the specificities of time. 

Translation is a key part to trying to figure out notes, sequences of notes, and colors. My tools are usually: a compass, star map, measuring tape.

With a compass, I’m able to orient direction, which gives me notes to play to certain directions according to Greek tradition. Similarly, knowing the specific point in the lunar cycle, the day of the week, and the season gives me more notes.

The time of performance gives me a clue as to what type of Indian classical music raga to play. For every hour, there are usually 3-5 different ragas and I try and pick a mode that best suits the location and mood for the performance.

After locating notes, it becomes a simple translation to color according to the relationships between color frequency and sound frequency via our good friend Roy G. Biv (color spectrum).

Window proportions (or room proportions) can give me clues as to thalam (rhythm). According to height and width, I can divide up rhythm sections. The constellations above our heads at the exact moment can also provide points of shape to add to a visual score for more dynamism. 

These are some of the factors that lend to notes which can then lend themselves to musical improvisation. With these tools, I am able to walk into any room and structure at least 10-15 unique compositions. It's a system which looks for free flow. I'm looking forward to the evening of the performance to see how the light plays through this inspiring space and create melodies alongside that very special piano.